A couple of useful correctives to the Sheehan reporting today —
From Newsweek, we learn that President Bush may not be a cruel, heartless, unfeeling robot after all:
In emotional private meetings with the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush offers solace””and seeks some of his own.
President Bush was wearing “a huge smile,” but his eyes were red and he looked drained by the time he got to the last widow, Crystal Owen, a third-grade schoolteacher who had lost her husband in Iraq. “Tell me about Mike,” he said immediately. “I don’t want my husband’s death to be in vain,” she told him. The president apologized repeatedly for her husband’s death. When Owen began to cry, Bush grabbed her hands. “Don’t worry, don’t worry,” he said, though his choking voice suggested that he had worries of his own. The president and the widow hugged. “It felt like he could have been my dad,” Owen recalled to NEWSWEEK. “It was like we were old friends. It almost makes me sad. In a way, I wish he weren’t the president, just so I could talk to him all the time.”
Privately, Bush has met with about 900 family members of some 270 soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The conversations are closed to the press, and Bush does not like to talk about what goes on in these grieving sessions, though there have been hints. An hour after he met with the families at Fort Bragg in June, he gave a hard-line speech on national TV. When he mentioned the sacrifice of military families, his lips visibly quivered.
Family members interviewed by NEWSWEEK say they have been taken aback by the president’s emotionalism and his sincerity.
Before Bush left the meeting, he paused in the middle of the room and said to the families, “I will never feel the same level of pain and loss you do. I didn’t lose anyone close to me, a member of my family or someone that I love. But I want you to know that I didn’t go into this lightly. This was a decision that I struggle with every day.”
As he spoke, Ascione could see the grief rising through the president’s body. His shoulder slumped and his face turned ashen. He began to cry and his voice choked. He paused, tried to regain his composure and looked around the room. “I am sorry, I’m so sorry,” he said.
A quick trip around the left-wing blogosphere shows a
strange silence about the Newsweek account. They can’t let up on the “Bush is an evil, unfeeling #$&*!” meme for even a second apparently.
And from blogger Chrenkoff, a few quotes from a some family members of fallen soldiers who feel different than Cindy Sheehan. He concludes:
Kos and the rest of the left think that exploiting Cindy Sheehan’s exploitation of her loss is the best new secret weapon in the war against George Bush. But both sides can play the “grieving parents” game -Â– except that it’s not a game, and it shouldn’t be played. The right has not used people like Lynn Kelly, Linda Ryan, or hundreds of others, to make their case in our current war. It would be decent if the left stopped using Cindy Sheehan to make theirs.
To a reasonable person, the president comes across as a thoroughly decent man, a person of strong moral convictions, who cares deeply about the soldiers under his command, and about doing the best for his country. One may disagree strongly with every single one of his policy decisions without acting as if he isn’t even a human being. This is in starkest contrast to the utter viciousness and bile emanating from the left against him 24/7/365, a constant effort to strip him of all humanity. Forgetting party and ideology, just as an American, the utter disregard for any sense of decency from many on the left is really just saddening. Contrast the Newsweek article and the comments Chrenkoff posted with Cindy Sheehan calling the president a “lying bastard” and a “maniac.”